Navigating Wrongful Death Claims after a Fatal Car Accident in CT

Nothing can undo the pain caused by a loved one’s death. However, that doesn’t mean that the person responsible should not be held accountable for the damage they have caused. While no legal action can bring your loved one back, financial compensation can help survivors cover final expenses, settle debts, and prepare for the loss of the decedent’s income.

An Overview of Wrongful Death Claims

Per Connecticut law, a wrongful death claim holds a party accountable for the injuries they cause that result in death. With this type of claim, the onus is on the plaintiff to prove the other party’s negligence or recklessness. This is a civil suit that is entirely separate from any criminal proceeding that may have been initiated because of the death. However, criminal charges and convictions can serve as evidence to help substantiate a civil claim.

The executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate must be the plaintiff in a wrongful death claim. In the event that the decedent does not have estate planning documents that name an administrator or executor, the court must name someone.

Accidents Most Likely to Cause Fatalities

Car accidents are a common cause of death in the United States. The most dangerous type of crash is a head-on crash; more than half of all car accident fatalities occur in head-on crashes. Other types of crashes that are associated with high fatality rates include rollover crashes and T-bone collisions.

In the vast majority of fatal car accidents, the crash can be traced to a driver’s negligence or error in judgment. Common causes of fatal crashes include:

  • Distracted driving
  • Speeding
  • Fatigued driving
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Failure to adhere to posted signs and warnings
  • Impaired driving

What to Do After a Loved One’s Death in a Car Accident

The death of a loved one can turn your world upside down, and it’s likely that pursuing legal action is low on your list of priorities. However, it is crucial to consult a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. After a fatal car crash, you must move quickly to preserve crucial evidence and consult experts. Your attorney may work with investigators, forensic specialists, and other experts to recreate the accident.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for a car accident death in Connecticut is two years. If you wait that long to begin building a case, though, your attorney will be at a serious disadvantage. After two years, it may be difficult or even impossible to track down witnesses or get their statements.

Evidence may become contaminated or unavailable for testing, making it harder to prove liability or cause of death. We know it is difficult to focus on anything other than grieving and picking up the pieces after a loved one’s death, but if someone else was responsible for it, make it a top priority to secure a personal injury attorney you can trust.

Possible Damages in a Wrongful Death Suit

Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases may be able to pursue several types of compensation from the responsible party and their insurance company. Your attorney will explain different options to you and figure out a reasonable settlement amount. Types of compensation in a wrongful death case include:

  • Loss of the loved one’s earning potential
  • Final expenses, including burial and funeral costs
  • The family members’ pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses related to the accident incurred by the decedent prior to their death

There are many factors that might impact how much you can ask for. For example, consider the loss of the decedent’s income. The amount awarded to the plaintiff may depend on the decedent’s level of education, salary prior to death, and projected career path prior to death.

Connecticut also allows plaintiffs to recover double or triple damages in certain circumstances. This is only an option if the liable driver displayed a reckless disregard for traffic laws and safety at the time of the crash. This recklessness must have been a substantial factor in the accident and the victim’s death.

Contact APEX Law Firm, LLC for Help with Your Wrongful Death Case

The experienced attorneys at APEX Law Firm, LLC handle wrongful death claims in a manner that respects the family’s grief and healing process while still aggressively pursuing compensation and holding the other party responsible for the damage caused. We understand the difficulties you face after a loved one suffers a wrongful death, and we are dedicated to helping you take the next step forward. Contact us at 860-385-8360 to schedule a consultation.

Do I Need to Call the Police to the Scene of an Accident in Connecticut?

Being involved in a car accident isn’t just upsetting; it can also raise questions about what you are legally obligated to do moving forward. One question that we often hear is regarding the legal requirement to call the police to the scene of an accident in Connecticut. The answer, however, is dependent upon many factors, including the extent of injuries and the amount of property damage. Here’s an overview of what you need to know about calling the police to the scene of an accident in Connecticut.

Your Responsibilities after an Accident in Connecticut

Whether or not you have to call the police to the scene of an accident in Connecticut can be confusing. The laws regarding your legal duties after an accident are found in Connecticut code Section 14-224, and are explained, in brief, below:

  • When an accident results in death. When an accident results in death in Connecticut, an operator of a motor vehicle is legally obligated to immediately stop their vehicle and render reasonable assistance and should immediately report the death to a police officer. It should go without saying that if you are in an accident that results in death, you should not hesitate to call the police to the scene of the accident.
  • When an accident results in serious or minor injuries. If an accident occurs that results in injuries to a party, whether those injuries are serious or minor, you are required to stop your vehicle, render reasonable assistance, and provide the other party with your name, address, driver’s license number, and registration information. You are also required to report the accident to the police. Keep in mind that when injuries are serious, rendering “such assistance that may be needed” could very well include calling the police to obtain emergency services. As such, you should not hesitate to contact the police and call them to the accident scene.
  • When an accident results in property damage. Did you know that if you are involved in an accident in Connecticut that causes property damage, even if no one sustains injuries, you are required to stop your vehicle at the scene? You are also required to provide the owner of the property that was damaged with your name, address, and driver’s license number and registration information. Further, if you are unable to provide the other party with this information (i.e. you hit a vehicle that was unoccupied), you must report the incident to the police. However, you do not necessarily need to call the police to the accident scene.

The Importance of Reporting an Accident to the Police

Not only is the reporting of an accident to the police a legal requirement in most cases, but reporting an accident can also help to protect your rights during the claims process. This is because having a police report on file provides a source of proof that the accident occurred, and that damages–whether to your person or vehicle–were sustained. What’s more, in the event of serious crashes where injuries are sustained or property damage totals more than a few hundred dollars, calling the police to the scene is advised as a police report provides an additional form of evidence. When a police officer can come to the scene of the crash, they will be able to make more detailed notes about what they believe happened, the position of the vehicles, other forms of evidence (skid marks), and obvious damage. Coming to the scene of an accident also provides an officer with the ability to interview witnesses.

Filing a Claim and Recovering Your Maximum Settlement Amount after a Connecticut Crash

If you are injured in an accident in Connecticut, we encourage you to contact our experienced Connecticut car accident lawyers at The APEX Law Firm, LLC. We serve clients throughout the state and can review your case for free today. Contact The APEX Law Firm today at (860) 900-0900 in Hartford County or visit us at uptonlegal.com to schedule a free consultation today – our attorneys are ready to help you!

Should Technology Companies Be Held Accountable for Distracted Driving Accidents?

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reports that distracted driving has now become an epidemic. In 2014 alone, 3,179 Americans were killed in distracted driving-related accidents. The number of injuries related to these accidents each year, more than 390,000, is astronomical and continues to grow. While drivers choose to stare at their phone, surf the net, or send text messages while driving, some now wonder whether or not technology companies should be held responsible for these tragic accidents.

Blaming Tech Companies for Distracted Driving Accidents

Can a technology company, such as a smartphone maker, be held liable for a distracted driving crash? That very question was raised in a series of lawsuits filed against Apple and other tech companies following some devastating and often fatal distracted driving accidents.

In 2013, 20-year old David Riggs was killed in Oakdale, Minnesota when his scooter was struck by a distracted driver. The driver of the other vehicle had been texting on his iPhone. The victim’s father, Craig Riggs, filed suit against Apple claiming that the technology company could have prevented the accident.

In December 2016, Apple was sued once again following a fatal distracted driving accident in Texas. A 5-year-old girl was killed after the vehicle in which she was riding was struck by a driver who was using FaceTime on his iPhone. The lawsuit also claims that Apple had the ability to stop users from using their phones while driving, yet chose not to do this.

In a similar sort of case, but not involving Apple, a Texas family is suing ridesharing company Lyft for failing to prevent a deadly distracted driving accident. In October 2015, the Edwards family called an Uber to take them to an engagement party. The Uber driver, who also drives for Lyft, tried to accept a Lyft ride while en route to their destination. While distracted with his phone, the driver caused a tragic accident, killing two passengers and injuring several others. A lawsuit was filed against Lyft alleging that the company failed to design and release a safe app.

Technology to Prevent Distracted Driving Accidents

It would be difficult to hold technology companies accountable in these cases or even allege fault if there were no way to prevent distracted driving. The allegations raised in each lawsuit to date point out exactly the opposite. The fact is that these technology companies do have the means to prevent these dangerous crashes, using technology, and they choose not to use what they have.

According to a New York Times report published last year, Apple owns a patent for technology that was designed to prevent texting while driving. They’ve just decided not to use it. Apple, along with wireless carriers like Verizon and AT&T, even caution against distracted driving and its dangers, meaning they understand the risks that these products and technology pose on the road.

Even the National Safety Council (NSC) became directly involved as early as 2012 when they sent a letter to the nation’s major wireless carriers. In the letter, the NSC asked carriers to prevent drivers from using technology while driving. This request was ignored. The suit involving Lyft claims that technology exists to prevent the app from running while others are in play, which would have prevented this distraction.

Hands-Free vs. Hand-Held Smartphone Use

Some technology companies argue that they have produced ways to make their devices safe with hands-free use. Instead of disabling devices while in a vehicle, a consumer can control them “hands-free.” Unfortunately, not having a device in-hand doesn’t solve the problem or make driving safer.

When driver’s use voice control with their smartphones, they are just as distracted as they are when they are holding them, sometimes more so. When dictation isn’t accurate, this can lead to even further frustrations while someone is driving. In the end, it’s not the driver’s hands that are distracted, but rather their brain.

Liability in Distracted Driving Cases

Of the cases we named, and several other similar ones still pending, no technology company has yet been found responsible for a distracted driving accident. While there are some apps that a user can download to stop technology use while driving, these are voluntary and unlikely to solve the underlying problem.

It is just a matter of time before one of these cases is heard and makes its way to a jury. If you or a loved one have been impacted by a distracted driving accident in Connecticut, contact the experienced distracted driving accident attorneys at The APEX Law Firm, LLC to protect your rights and discuss your legal options. Contact us today for your free consultation in Hartford County at (860) 900-0900 or visit us at www.apexlawfirmct.com.